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“A Pew Research Center poll conducted in April of this year showed that 49 percent of people said the right to own guns was more important while 45 percent said it was more important to control gun ownership. Those numbers were unchanged from a Pew survey conducted Jan. 13-16, 2011 — just days after Giffords was shot in Tucson. That the numbers on gun control remain steady even in the aftermath of such high profile events like Columbine, Virginia Tech and the Giffords shooting suggests that people simply don’t equate these incidents of violence with the broader debate over the right role for guns in our society. They view them as entirely separate conversations — and that’s why the tragedy in Aurora isn’t likely to change the political conversation over guns either.” – Chris Cillizza

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  1. The fact that the enemies of the Constitution number that high is exactly why I have nothing but disdain for my “countrymen.” We as a nation have failed in our duty to inherit the responsibilities of a free society.

  2. gun control is punishing you before you commit a crime, a crime you most likely will never commit. i don’t know if that’s communist or fascist, but i don’t like it either way.

    • In medicine this is called paternalism. Yeah, actual Communist and Fascist states have often had a high tendency to tell people what’s best for them, but in truth this can happen in a perfectly democratic state, too: If everybody wants to run off the cliff together…well, why not? You didn’t win the vote, did you?

      This is where restraints, Constitutions, and balances come into play.

      • Sorry – “a simple majority,” not “everybody.” Depends on the democratic system, but it’s still a consistent theory. If 50% of the voters + 1 say that up is down and black is white, a simple (naive) democracy just puts it into writing.

  3. That’s one theory, I suppose.

    Alternatively, each side remains adamant in their positions on the topic. More murders aren’t going to change my mind that an armed populace is a good thing, and more murders aren’t going to change the minds of those who think guns kill people.

    • A gallon milk jug full of gasoline and an auto flare can do a lot more damage in a crowed theatre than any gun.

  4. Let’s hope so…but my experience tells me that when the “scared sheep” hit critical mass, they are willing to forgo basic rights to feel “safe”.

  5. We are in a difficult position. When an incident like Aurora happens the anti’s get their press and continue to call for brand new laws. When nothing happens we don’t get credit for keeping the peace or preventing a massacre.

    The internet cafe situation could have gone very different if the two guys had not been challenged. Babe Ruth would have cracked some heads and maybe if the other one had a working gun we would have read about a few people dying. That OFWG with his cheap gun saved a lot of people.

    Don’t expect that to convince anyone owning and carrying by citizens is a good thing.

  6. I wonder how much of this is due to our historically low violent crime rate. Maybe people just don’t feel as threatened in their communities and personal lives, regardless of what kind of crazy stuff they see on TV. Gun owners sometimes like to call them naive “sheeple,” but their sense of safety is not entirely unjustified.

  7. I think both sides will continue to push their agendas. There are large forces at work, like the ATT which we still don’t know anything about as no official text has been released. Also many states like DC or California continue to push legislation which inhibits us as owners.

  8. CNN has an, er, interesting op-ed by Northeastern University (Boston)’s James Allan Fox today, “Gun control or carry permits won’t stop mass murder:”

    The part that interests us: “While [concealed carry is] logical in theory, in the chaos of the moment, few gun owners would be prepared to mount an effective counterattack. And in a crowded setting, such as the movie theater clouded with tear gas and smoke, it would be virtually impossible to distinguish the bad guy with a gun from the good guys with their guns.”

    I am sorry for the very lengthy response but I wanted to cover it properly:

    a.) Why limit it to concealed carry? Perhaps Fox is merely reflecting the status of popular gun advocacy here. However, many people would see this (certainly almost all of the readers here, for instance) as dancing around one of the arguable benefits of open carry: You see people with guns, you think twice. Most people are police when around the police, and part of that is motivated by their weapons and sanction to use force.

    b.) The statement that “few gun owners” could respond effectively appears to be entirely off-the-cuff, even unsupported by evidence. Why is this? In an op-ed, the usual pressure on newspapermen to disregard “academic” (i.e. useful and relevant) detail for the interested mind is probably absent, and he was invited to give us a full rationale. I think he clearly failed to do so.. Another CNN article quotes an attorney based here in MI – Steven Howard, who teaches legalities of CCW, is a former border patrol agent, and a gunsmith – to emphasize that theaters are perfect “killing zones,” with many heads lined up at seat height. Nothing suggests that that an idiot standing tall below the screen with a weapon wouldn’t stand out sharply in most cases; in fact, it appears that the idiot with a couple guns did stand out, despite the tear gas. At least one person in the audience remembered his gas mask, and many others knew which way to run, even though this appears to be the most confused scene of a mass shooting in recent memory (rivaled only by the Moscow Police’s resolution of a theater hostage crisis some years back with some kind of gas, which did result in many hostage deaths).

    c.) I see the usual assumption that “police and the military are special because they are legally empowered, and law is magic:” If, in Prof. Fox’s interpretation* of this event, target confirmation would be so problematic that a trained private individual who had been at the location and had some immediate familiarity with the area and some awareness of the other patrons (if only in the absence of their being conspicuous, but it is not unreasonable to think that a patron could have noticed some of the other people and their normal, unsuspicious behavior, helping with eventually discerning who the problem was), what would make responding officers more likely to get it right, even assuming that they were able to rush straight in from a connecting hallway? Nothing whatsoever.

    Now, generally speaking, being immersed in a situation can make you biased. This can even be a problem! However, most people would agree that this was not a problematic situation for deciding to shoot at what looks like, sounds like, and probably smells like a bad guy. One could say that any bias is a problem, and that firearms magnify the opportunities for harm, but to categorize any dangers from bias as prohibitive ignores why you took the measure of carrying a firearm in the first place. There are dangers from being around people carrying weapons; you might possibly have found yourself standing next to Tex Grubner while he fiddled with his SERPA – but then again, likely you won’t. I think that the audience members would have preferred Tex was in the audience fiddling with his SERPA than just sit and hope they could tackle the guy or flee in time). Personally, I would sit to Tex’s right side every time. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but nobody ever gets it in time.

    I think that the average defense shooter would not be overly concerned about being wrongly targeted by the police or a confused defensive shooter in this case, if it was really unavoidable, just so long as the guy who wants to kill every last person is stopped, and sometimes that involves a risk of being shot. Firefighters don’t watch fires; they rush in and put them out (unless you didn’t pay your property tax, in some rare places and cases). That’s a utilitarian rationale. Police often put their lives on the line (although I understand they aren’t legally required to do so, but the fact of being police puts them at risk, like the career detective who was murdered serving a warrant here some years ago); CCW and open carriers arguably do, too. An argument that it’s for their sake or that it would just make things more confused and more dangerous is condescending and wrong.

    Additionally, moviegoers would have had time for their vision to adjust from the typical bright lighting of hallways connecting theaters in the typical modern movieplex design, which is yet another critical benefit denied to immediate responders. It’s not total situational awareness – it’s TOTAL SITUATIONAL IMMERSION. The best person to judge a situation might not be the one at hand, but if you can assume two people to be roughly equal in abilities, the one who has had time in the area will have a natural advantage. So goes the saying: A gun in the hand is worth two out in the bushes peering down at the theater.

    The only real objection is (again) really a utilitarian one, which in this case strikes me as being akin to calculating the price of a life against a rubber tank liner by Ford. How many lives might be lost across the entire nation? By expanding the problem to such a broad scale, however, this “big-picture” thinking immediately threatens to swallow up awareness of the individual defensive actions that demonstrate why and how defensive gun use can be helpful. And, in any case, statistics can always be met with statistics. I am not familiar with Fox’s work (or, actually, with the firearms statistics in general) but the utilitarian calculus should require that the measure of suffering avoided by justified DGUs must at least narrowly outweigh the suffering caused by CCWs (or whatever population of law-abiding gun owners you wish to single out for special treatment). Many people will prefer to talk about the deaths from one source versus another – since death is the greatest harm possible, it’s usually considered appropriate to take dramatic and expensive measures to prevent it. It’s a funny thing, but nobody seems to ever make the claim that gun ownership is the worse thing, on those scales, and get away with it. Instead we get (perhaps not from Prof. Fox) a parade of individual cases – tragic as each selected case may be, they don’t make up the reliable basis of a careful study. I’m not aware that the firearms statistics show that gun owners are more adept at harming themselves and innocents than they are at stopping crimes – often without pulling the trigger or even pointing the gun at the bad guy. Just like the police, in fact. It is right to promote professionalism by gun owners; it is wrong to deny that it exists or attempt to use the assumed lack of it as a reason against gun use. I daresay you can put millions of gun owners together and to a person they will not join the deranged shooter, but will instead vow to defend the helpless.

    *You could call it that to be generous, but “fabricated” seems factually consistent with the information available here. He presents his case against permits as if dense gas and confused target environments are the norm in mass shootings, where I think the reverse is much more likely to be true, since shooters tend to make themselves conspicuous, often to indulge in self-worshipful head games. Given that nobody in the theater seems to have had a gun for defense, we won’t be able to definitively judge whether anybody else could have discerned the bad guy and shot him without injuring others, but the evidence we do have suggests that at least a few people could have made the right call.

      • Hopefully there is some nugget of…if not wisdom, inspiration, at least, to go after. I was (am) hopeful of getting some kind of feedback so I could develop it further and see if the good Professor has a better answer than the one he gave in his article. I totally understand you, though – the fewer words the better!


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